I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Feed The Man Meat

Ever since I've lived in Australia, my American friends have made the mistake of assuming that just because we've got McDonald's, Target and Toys R' Us, Australia is pretty much like America. Except, of course, that the people are nicer and they speak with a funny accent. For years now I've been saying (mostly upon deaf ears) that in fact the two places are very, very different. The differences are largely cultural, and many of them don't really become obvious to the average Down Under traveller. You really need to live in Australia for a while before you realise just how different this place is.

I could probably come up with several examples, but a recent NYE BBQ experience reminded me of a specific, really funny Australian trait. I am, of course, talking about the BYO phenomenon. Many restaurants here have a BYO policy - where literally you can walk in the door holding as much wine and beer as you can carry, and you can enjoy it with your meal. There is sometimes a charge associated with this, but often not. See? It's just another example of how nice Australians can be. Don't want to pay the inflated wine prices? Bring your own! Here, I'll even pour it for you.

Where this whole BYO thing gets out of hand is with barbecues. We all know that the sunburned, blond and water-loving Australians love a good barbie, mate! What they don't love is actually having to cater for it. It is a very common phenomenon here to be invited to a barbecue which is "BYO meat."

I'll let you digest that for a moment (pun intended.)

You are actually expected to pack yourself a little esky (cooler thingie) with some raw meat (of whatever sort you like) and bring it WITH YOU to the party. Then either you or the host cook it up for you. Usually the host will provide salads and chips and soft drinks - so really you're just bringing along the, *ahem*, EXPENSIVE part of the meal. Is it just me who thinks that it's totally weird to be inviting people over but then saying, "Oh, sorry, the budget didn't stretch to protein!" Is it not weird to be showing up carrying a bag of raw meat? "Oh, hi, sorry about the drips of blood all down your driveway, it's the side of raw beef I'm shlepping."

I especially do not understand this phenomenon when the people issuing the invitation live in a McMansion and drive a 4WD Lexus, but there you go. Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with people offering to bring something and the host accepting ... we could all use a spare salad, some extra dessert, but meat? Seriously? Just how freakin' cheap are you people?

As far as I am concerned, the only parties where this BYO meat business is appropriate are those where the hosts are 19 year old university students whose usual diet is 2-minute noodles and whatever free crap they can steal. Everyone else has no excuse.

Now I haven't spent time in all 50 states, but I have lived in at least 3 states, and I'm pretty sure the other 47 would agree with me when I say that there is no such thing as BYO meat to an American barbecue. Unless, of course, it's dear old Uncle Hal, who is bringing you bits of the elk he shot down last summer. Him, I can understand BYO meat, because, you know, elk is not always on the menu. Anyone else? Just a cheap bastard.

Welcome to Australia! Please make sure you clear your meat through customs.


Claire - Matching Pegs said...

Michelle, I understand why this concept seems cheap - I agree that it sounds strange. I think though that it may stem also from our somewhat casual attitude to a party.

If you are going to cater an entire event (like a wedding or 21st) you need to know exactly who is coming.

A BYO meat BBQ means you don't have to worry about exactly who is turning up, and people feel less pressure about deciding at the last minute to attend, because they know they are contributing.

We had a small NYE BBQ, and it was BYO meat, but other get togethers that we have throughout the year are ones that we are more likely to provide all meat for. I hope I don't seem too cheap :-)

emzeegee & the hungry three said...


I can kinda see your point...but even if you're only providing salads, drinks, etc...don't you need some idea of how many people you need to provide that stuff for?

...and you get a pass on the NYE event as long as all the other ones are "meat provided." The NYE BBQ we went to was BYO meat, drinks, chairs, condiments...EVERYTHING!! We had a good time, but sheesh, throw a woman a bone (okay, a cracker) would ya?! :)


Dani said...

Funny. Here in Massachusetts, a former coworker of mine hosted a BYOM party every year with some friends. They would print up flyers and invite everyone they knew. They weren't too far removed from your starving university student exemption, but still. Young engineering alums must be able to afford ground round at the least, right? I always thought it was strange (and never actually went).

emzeegee & the hungry three said...


Okay, I can kinda see that in a funny/geeky engineers sort of way, especially because they are all "photocopy a flyer" retro and all...but secretly, I'm proud you never went along. :)

Plus I think my meat mixing with others meat is a wee bit creepy, for reasons I am unable to explain.


Robyn C said...

This is so funny! Ed and I constantly disagree about this! He wants to invite people over all the time for a barbie, and sometimes I can't be bothered preparing, or we're a little bit broke that week, he says "don't worry, just tell them to bring meat and a salad". I'm like "no, if we can't do everything, we don't invite". I always thought it was the jewish side of me that felt repelled at this BYOM idea, versus ed being an aussie WASP. I got an email invitation from a friend (not jewish, very aussie) in dec last year saying: Come to my housewarming bbq, bring meat, a salad, and drinks!!! I was stunned!!! So I took meat, salad, drink, and that was their housewarming present!!

Robyn C

Anonymous said...

Hey Mich,

Am loving your blogs, but re the whole meat thing, have never heard of it before (except when I was in uni when you brought everything to anything you attended) so it must be you Melbournians...Don't worry, if you & David ever venture up North we will not expect anything except your divine selves (and the kids, please bring them too). Of course, if I invited you for a BBQ and then said 'bring meat' it would look a little strange since I live on a cattle station.
Love Geo

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

LOL Georgie! You definitely have no excuse for a BYO meat barbeque...even if you wanted to hold one, you couldn't! :)

...and believe you me I'd love to take the kids up North. It's not that far from the realm of possibility, you know.